Alibaba founder Jack Ma to step down as chairman in September 2019

Alibaba founder Jack Ma to step down as chairman in September 2019

"The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba", Ma added.

Ma will continue as the executive chairman of the company over the next 12 months.

. Ma's 46-year-old successor has pushed Alibaba deeper into the wallets of Chinese consumers as it bought and transformed brick-and-mortar outlets: a so-called " New Retail" vision that's cost billions of dollars and took it into the realm of physical stores. "Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle", he said.

Ma described Zhang as having "superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership".

Zhang joined Taobao in 2007 as chief financial officer of the consumer-to-consumer marketplace. Since his ascension, the Shanghai-educated executive has proven a capable operator, designing and pulling off mega-events such as the annual Singles' Day shopping bonanza.

This day apparently comes as quite the relief for Ma.

The company, founded at a time when the industry was still dominated by state-owned firms and entrepreneurship was seen as a risky career path, has grown to have more than 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of some $420 billion. Leadership will now fall to Zhang and the 35 other partners who control the company. Even without a formal role, Mr. Ma will have huge potential to influence Alibaba, raising questions about where accountability at the company truly lies. That's an effort that's driven more than $8 billion of deals in the span of several years, involving traditional retail chains such as Suning.

Alibaba has since moved into cloud computing, digital payments, health care, Hollywood movies and backing China's startups.

The company's $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 was the biggest to date by a Chinese company. No company can rely exclusively on its founders.

More news: Tesla Stock Is Tanking After Elon Musk Lost a Top Executive

He came from Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a leading Chinese developer of online games that was listed on the Nasdaq.

The story goes on to quote Ma, who apparently spoke with the Times: "Mr. Ma said his retirement is not the end of an era but 'the beginning of an era.' He said he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education".

The colourful and charismatic co-founder of Alibaba appears to revel in the limelight. Ma said that over the years, the company has experimented with and improved on the right balance between systems and individuals.

"The reason is because I think e-commerce has a bright future and it's just at the beginning", Zhang told Alibaba's news site a year ago.

"There's only Bill Gates who has done the same". Ma is one of the world's richest entrepreneurs. He's happy to not be in the limelight", said Duncan Clark, managing director at Beijing tech advisory BDA and author of "Alibaba: "The House that Jack Built".

Ma also became one of the best-known Chinese businesspeople overseas. He has struck a careful balance even as tensions between China and the US have risen over trade. Such scandals haven't been associated with Ma or Alibaba. They included management tropes such as thinking long-term, but there were more novel axioms such as "buy, don't bet", in which Zhang explained that acquiring beats investing when it comes to strategic projects.

"On a day-to-day basis, Alibaba shareholders probably have little to fear", said Silvers.

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